The Britannia class was designed for fast mixed traffic work with wide route availability, of a pacific wheel arrangement for use on all principal routes.The locomotives featured a large free steaming boiler comprising a wide firebox with a grate area of 42 sq ft (3.9 m2).
The boiler was designed with very high superheat and a multiple valve regulator for easy starting, and 2 large outside cylinders.The design incorporated all working parts including items such as injectors and ejectors being easily accessible.
Britannia is fitted with roller bearing axle boxes throughout. A unique feature of the locomotive is the large fully enclosed cab design, with a flat one-piece footplate (no moving fall plate from the tender) making the fireman’s job easier. The driver’s controls were designed so that they are within easy reach; the tender features an inset coal space design which, complete with a spectacle plate, gives good rearward vision.
No 70000 was built at the BR Works in Crewe in 1951 and was allocated to Stratford depot on the Eastern Region. The class transformed the Liverpool Street to Norwich service instantly, with a two hour schedule. This involved regular running at 90 mph and other diagrams that included the heavy Parkstone Key boat trains.
Displaced by diesel traction in the mid 1960’s, Britannia was transferred to the North West Division working heavy trains between Manchester, Carlisle, Glasgow and Perth. Eventually the locomotive was withdrawn from Newton Heath depot in May 1966. Initially No 70000 was stored to become part of the National Collection, but a fellow member of the class was chosen as the last steam locomotive that was overhauled by British Railways.
Britannia returned to the mainline for the first time since 1990s in 2009. She has since become a regular and reliable mainline performer.
Facts and Figures
Riddles was employed by British Railways to develop a new series of standard class steam locomotives, amalgamating the best features of all of the Big Four companies.
Britannia was the first of the Standard class locomotives to be built for BR, constructed to haul some of the fastest passenger services across the country.
No. 70000 differed slightly from the remaining Standard Class 7MTs as she was the first of the class to be built.
Total Built of Class
The Standard Class 7s were built in Crewe to work trains all over the BR network, wherever there was a need for additional locomotives.
2nd January 1951
Britannia was the first in her class, and the first ever Standard loco.
Number in Class
For the first month of running Britannia went un-named in BR Black livery.
Jan 30, 1951
No. 70000 can haul trains on preserved railways & the mainline.
The Britannia class had a working pressure of 250psi, allowing them to haul some of the heaviest trains. Her driving wheels were balanced in size for passenger and freight working.
Boiler Working Pressure
Valve gear is used to control the amount of steam an engine uses, equivalent to the gear box of a car.
The area the fire in the boiler covers.
42 sq ft
Four leading wheels, six driving wheels and two trailing wheels on the loco.
Two cylinders, both outside the frames.
20 in x 28 in
No. 70000 was overhauled at Crewe Heritage for a number of years leading up to 2009, she returned to the mainline in that year.
68 ft 9 in
Britannia has air and vacuum brakes fitted to allow her to operate a wide range of trains on the mainline.
Air and Vacuum
Boiler tickets last 7 years for mainline engines, after this they require an overhaul before being permitted to run again.
Images used on this page © Geoff Griffiths, Bob Green, Andrew Southwell, York Loco Images, Matt Veale & Colin Barker.